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Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Buy Your Mama a Llama!

For thousands of years llamas have helped families carry loads up and down steep slopes in Latin American countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.  Llamas help preserve a traditional way of life, and their soft wool makes warm ponchos and sweaters.

Llama Facts
  • Llamas have four stomachs to help them efficiently digest a variety of foods.
  • Llamas like to stay in a herd.
  • A llama can stand 5 to 6 feet tall, weigh up to 400 pounds, and live as long as 20 years.
  • Families comb or shear their llamas’ warm fur to produce up to 10 pounds of fleece per year to sell or spin.

Llama Tale
Cotopaxi is a highland province in central Ecuador.  At an altitude of 11,000 feet, it’s at the edge of the treeline and the grassland is fragile.  People who live there are almost all indigenous, and 80 percent live below the poverty line.

One reason people are hungry is that, year by year, farmland has crept up the Andes mountains, but, year by year, it has produced less.  Cutting down trees has encouraged soil to wash down the steep hillsides.  As families move higher up the mountain, water sources dry up, and the cycle of desperation and destruction continues.

But the alpaca, a smaller, soft–coated cousin of the llama, is at home in Ecuador, although it has been dying out.  Heifer has reintroduced 35 valuable alpacas to 50 Cotopaxi families, teaching them to alternate grazing with fodder from specially grown indigenous trees and how to process the wool. Since working together on common land is a strong indigenous tradition, families gladly take turns caring for the alpacas, and they are restoring native grasses and trees that once grew abundantly. With 20 young alpacas being born a year and the land beginning to thrive once more, they know that their traditional way of life can continue.

(Information provided by the Heifer International Living Gift Market guide and Heifer International’s Animal Crackers educational resource)

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